A new flexible, transparent electrical device inspired by electric eels could lead to body-friendly power sources for implanted health monitors and medication dispensers, augmented-reality contact lenses, and countless other applications, researchers report.

The soft cells—made of hydrogel and salt—form the first potentially biocompatible artificial electric organ that generates more than 100 volts. It produces a steady buzz of electricity at high voltage but low current, a bit like an extremely low-volume but high-pressure jet of water. It could be enough to power a small medical device like a pacemaker.

While the technology is preliminary, Michael Mayer, a professor of biophysics at the Adolphe Merkle Institute of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and the paper’s corresponding author, believes it may one day be useful for powering implantable or wearable devices without the toxicity, bulk, or frequent recharging that come with batteries.

(more…)

New research out of the University of Florida shows a new 3D printing technology that could lead to strong, flexible, affordable medical implants.

Through this new process for the use of 3D printing and soft silicone, the researchers believe items that millions of patients use could be more easily manufactured, ranging from implantable bands to soft catheters to slings.

This from the University of Florida:

These kinds of devices are currently molded, which can take days or even weeks to create customized parts designed to fit an individual patient. The 3D-printing method cuts that time to hours, potentially saving lives. What’s more, extremely small and complex devices, such as drainage tubes containing pressure-sensitive valves, simply cannot be molded in one step.

The new method allows them to be printed.

(more…)